Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

About three-in-ten U.S. adults say they are ‘almost constantly’ online

A person lying under the covers in a dark room and looking at a smartphone. (Cavan Images via Getty Images)
(Cavan Images via Getty Images)

As smartphones and other internet-connected devices have become more widespread, 31% of U.S. adults now report that they go online “almost constantly,” up from 21% in 2015, according to a new Pew Research Center survey conducted Jan. 25 to Feb. 8, 2021.

More than eight-in-ten U.S. adults go online at least daily

Overall, 85% of Americans say they go online on a daily basis. That figure includes the 31% who report going online almost constantly, as well as 48% who say they go online several times a day and 6% who go online about once a day. Some 8% go online several times a week or less often, while 7% of adults say they do not use the internet at all.

How we did this

Pew Research Center has a history of studying internet usage. This report focuses on how often Americans go online. The Center surveyed 1,502 U.S. adults from Jan. 25 to Feb. 8, 2021, by cellphone and landline phone. The survey was conducted by interviewers under the direction of Abt Associates and is weighted to be representative of the U.S. adult population by gender, race, ethnicity, education and other categories. Here are the questions used for this report, along with responses, and its methodology.

Adults under the age of 50 are at the vanguard of the constantly connected: 44% of 18- to 49-year-olds say they go online almost constantly. By comparison, just 22% of those ages 50 to 64 and even smaller shares of those 65 and older (8%) say they use the internet at this frequency.

About three-in-ten Americans go online ‘almost constantly,’ but this varies greatly by age

While the share of 18- to 29-year-olds who say they use the internet almost constantly has risen 9 percentage points since 2018, it remains unchanged since 2019. Meanwhile, the share of constantly online Americans ages 30 to 49 has risen 14 points since 2015, and the share of 50- to 64-year-olds has risen from 12% in 2015 to 22% in 2021. The share of Americans ages 65 and older saying this has not grown since the Center began asking this question in 2015.

Other demographic groups that report almost always going online include college-educated adults, adults who live in higher-income households and urban residents.

Some 42% of adults with a college degree or more education go online almost constantly, compared with 23% of adults with a high school diploma or less education. At the same time, the shares of White, Black and Hispanic adults who report using the internet almost constantly are statistically the same. Some 37% of Black adults say this, while 36% of Hispanic adults and 28% of White adults report going online on an almost-constant basis. The share of Hispanic adults who are almost always online has risen 17 points since 2015, while there has been no growth for White and Black adults during this time period.

While 40% of adults with an annual household income of $75,000 or more say they use the internet almost constantly, this is true for just 27% of those living in households earning less than $30,000 a year. Adults who live in urban areas are the most likely to say they go online almost constantly, compared with suburban residents and an even smaller share of those who live in rural areas.

CORRECTION (March 2021): A previous version of this post incorrectly listed partisan affiliation as a way in which the survey is weighted to be representative of the U.S. population. None of the study findings or conclusions are affected.

Note: This is an update of a post originally published on Dec. 8, 2015, and later updated on July 25, 2019, by Andrew Perrin and Madhu Kumar. Here are the questions used for this report, along with responses, and its methodology.